35. How do thoughts affect reality?
When I was in high school I had a gym class that wasn’t really a gym class. What I mean is that instead of doing something athletic for forty-five minutes we would sit on the bleachers and bitch about things we didn’t like about our school. Our informal roundtable was lead by our good intentioned, but flighty teacher named Mrs. Gilbert. She would give us tidbits of wisdom such as, “Ladies, I’ve learned to do things first and ask permission second.” She was the human embodiment of school spirit and though she would often forget she had a class to teach, she was our constant cheerleader.
When we weren’t spending class time talking about our adolescent woes she was preaching a heavy diet of positivity, which is why for several class periods we discussed The Secret. The documentary and best-selling book that is based on the law of attraction. These conversations led to my personal motto of, “positivity thinking attracts positive results.” A motto that originally sprang from sarcastic enthusiasm but somehow has morphed over the years into an actual belief.
A belief that is somewhat difficult to swallow especially when life becomes somewhat less than ideal. When something good happens in life it means that hard work combined with positive thought leads to the acquirement of what our heart desires. And when something doesn’t…well isn’t always better to blame that we simply weren’t being positive enough?
But does that line of thinking really measure up in the real world? Is positivity really the missing key? As you may have guessed there is no science that tells you: Yes if you’re positive enough, if you visualize it enough times, what you want will appear. That’s not how life works.
Instead of thinking of it being the law of attraction Neil Farber suggests that it is the principle of the thing that matters. The law states that, like always attracts like while the principle states that, like tends to attract like. The difference? Principle makes room for the things that we can’t account for. It means that we can positive but bad stuff will occasionally happen. It also adds an element of accountability. We build our vision boards, close our eyes and pray but we forget to put the work in.
The discovery of mirror neurons has led scientists to discovering that when humans observe an action our own brain registers the action as if we were performing it ourselves. That is why when you watch someone cliff dive or jump out of an airplane you let out that gasp of shock and feel anxious. Which also makes sense for why when I watch sport movies I become inspired even though I have zero athletic ability.
Another thing to consider is that the regions of the brain that consider intention and action are connected. Basically if intention in your brain is firing on all cylinders then action will as well. You have to possess strong intent in order to act out something. In addition to considering intention and action it is worth knowing the impact of the focus we put on certain emotions. You know how they say in doctor offices, “don’t think of the pain,” when they’re about to do something painful. It’s not wrong.
The article states that when you focus on something painful it increases that emotion of pain. Therefore, “it is not so much that we are “attracting” what we put out, but that we make it possible to feel and do things when we attend to them or intend to do them.” So what does this mean? It means that our thinking and visualization practices are not enough. We have to observe positive practices and we have to intend on carrying out our goals in real ways.
It is important to find positive people to surround yourself with. Immerse yourself in experiences that will lead to inspired thinking. When you look for those type of opportunities you will increase the likelihood of your happiness. Positive thinking doesn’t definitely lead to positive results, but it certainly helps.
*Pillay, Srinivasan, Is There Scientific Evidence for the “Law of Attraction? Huffington Post. November 17, 2011